Dunster Castle & Village

  • Port

    Ilfracombe, England, United Kingdom

  • Activity Level


  • Excursion Type

    Local Sightseeing, All

  • Wheelchair Accessible


  • Starting At


  • Minimum Age

    Information not currently available.

  • Duration

    Approximately 6¼ Hours

  • Meals Included


A 1¾-hour drive takes you through the breathtaking scenery of Exmoor with its glorious diversity of views. Exmoor consists of 267 square miles of open moorland vivid with purple heather in summer, ancient wooded oak valleys and arable farmland with historic beech hedges. The narrow roads climbing to the hilltops provide stunning views while the sheltered valleys offer a differing perspective of Exmoor National Park.

Arriving at Dunster, you'll see its castle dramatically sited on a wooded hill. A castle has been here since at least Norman times, with an impressive medieval gatehouse and ruined towers serving as a reminder of its turbulent history. The red turrets and towers of Dunster Castle, rising up from a wooded perch, make a dramatic spectacle, and its equally electric history features more than a millennium of turmoil and change. The tor (hill) has been fortified for more than 1,000 years. During Saxon times, the spectacular hilltop location served as a frontier fortress against Celtic and Viking raiders. It is recorded in the Domesday Book as being owned by the Saxon Aelfrif before 1066. In 1376, the castle was sold to Lady Elizabeth Luttrell whose descendants went on to own Dunster until the 20th century. A recent remodel of the castle swept away many of the 18th-century additions to re-emphasize its medieval origins.

On your visit today, you'll discover that the castle is also a family home that has evolved with the times -- a Jacobean gem lovingly revived and updated by the Victorians. The two styles meet in perfect harmony in the castle's beautifully-decorated show rooms. Ornate plasterwork ceilings, wood paneling, period furniture and paintings, and a magnificent fireplace greet you. Notable guests have dined beneath the dining room's sumptuous plasterwork ceiling dating from 1681. The King Charles Bedroom is said to be haunted, and the house is reputed to have many resident ghosts. The faint-of-heart need not venture in, but there is a mysterious secret passage to be discovered if you're brave enough.

Next, transfer the very short distance to Dunster Village, first settled around AD 700. The centuries have carved out a unique little village here -- the jewel in the crown of Exmoor National Park with more than 200 historic buildings.

Enjoy an hour of free time for shopping in the main street's many stores, or a break at one of the many cafés. Genuine Devonshire Cream Teas are readily available here (at your own expense).

The 1¾-hour return drive to Ilfracombe takes you through the delightful village of Porlock, where the narrow main street is lined with old houses typical of North Devon. Continue through part of the northern area of the Exmoor National Park and your circular scenic route leads back to Ilfracombe.


Lunch can be purchased during the tour at your own expense.